When Manka Dhingra was growing up, she heard family members quote Mahatma Gandhi: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
Her grandmother spoke out against domestic violence in India. A grand aunt was a UN representative for women at conferences in Beijing and New York. Another worked in an Indian refugee camp and then in rural villages with women and children.
It’s no surprise that Manka grew up with a passion for social justice. After an internship at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and work as a judicial clerk for the State Supreme Court, Manka joined the King County Prosecutor’s office where she now manages the Mental Health Court and Veterans’ Court team.
“It changes your mind about what a criminal looks like when you realize that jails are now the number one mental hospital for people,” Manka said.
King County was among the first few counties in the nation to introduce a Mental Health Court in response to the expanding number of people with mental illness entering the criminal justice system.
Mental health prosecutors often work in tandem with defense attorneys, probation officers, and an array of social service partners to help people obtain treatment for their illnesses, housing and employment; diverting them from a jail or prison sentence to an intensive court-monitored assistance program.
The Morrison Building in Seattle provides some housing for Mental Health Court participants.
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The Prosecutor's Post